Grateful to Give Love

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davenport family

Michelle was born to her 16-year-old mother in an era when young women were kicked out of school for being pregnant. Michelle’s great-grandmother Flossie, whom she called Nana, took in baby Michelle to give her the best start in life and to allow her young mother the chance to pursue her education.

Now living the many life lessons she learned from her great-grandmother, Michelle is following in Nana’s footsteps by adopting her four young grandchildren, who range in age from 5 to 10.

When Michelle was 13, she went to live with her mother and shortly thereafter Michelle became the live-in caretaker for her new baby brother. She eventually married her junior high school sweetheart, obtained her college degree and moved to Minnesota with her four children. When her marriage dissolved, Michelle raised her children alone.

Many years later, Michelle and her new love were about to get married when their life took a drastic turn. She noticed changes in her oldest daughter, who is also a mother of four. Michelle says, “The week I was getting remarried, we couldn’t find my daughter, and we couldn’t find her kids.”

They discovered Michelle’s daughter was struggling with drug addiction, which quickly spiraled out of control. Her daughter was unable to care for her children, and Michelle’s four young grandchildren were placed in foster care. Michelle talks about those hard days, “I told my husband before he married me, ‘if you want to walk away go ahead, because I am going to care for my grandkids.’ I am grateful he stuck around. It was a terrible time, but God made a way for our family and supplied all our needs.”

Michelle does what she can to support her daughter through her challenges with addiction. Her daughter has been in and out of treatment, but struggles to stay clean. Michelle says, “I won’t give up on her. Just as my Nana raised me, she never gave up on all those people in the world, so I’m surely not going to give up on my child. But this has not been easy.”

At a court hearing, Michelle recalls when the judge told her, “If you want to continue to see your grandchildren, you have to adopt them.” She felt scared and alone. She made phone calls and left messages. She started researching, watching webinars and consulted with three different lawyers. Then, while talking with a fellow congregation member she learned about Children’s Home Society. Michelle says, “I finally had the support I needed.”

Taniysha, Mikyah, Kamron and Demiyah were in foster care for three years before the adoption was finalized. During their second year in foster care, Michelle completed the foster care licensure process and her grandchildren moved into her home. “The past three years have been very difficult,” says Michelle, “but God gives me the strength to do what I need to do for the children. They didn’t ask for these challenges they have going on with their mom, but I’m happy to give them all the love in the world. I will instill in them the value of loving everyone, just as my Nana did when she raised me.”

Michelle enjoys always being there for her grandchildren. “I would do it again,” she says. “When my great-grandmother raised me, she told me to love everyone, help who you can. I listened. And that’s who I am today. I try to help everybody. I’m grateful.”

Children’s Home Society of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota are partners in adoption services.